Outside Words Worth bookstore I learned that my book contained a lie. The Epilogue tells authors flatly, “You will never see your book in a bookstore window.” Yet there were four copies of my book (not “sun-bleached, warped, and topped by dead flies”) in a window that advertised my appearance in the store that night. This amazing sight had to be captured for posterity, and Jane took a photo of me standing shyly beside the window display. At this a passer-by, a man of around 60, came up and said, “Are you Doug Gibson?” I had barely admitted the fact, when I saw that my wife was throwing herself into the arms of this stranger, emitting glad cries. They had gone to high school together.
The coincidences continued with my audience including a former M&S colleague, a man I met at Alice Munro’s 80th birthday party in Wingham, and Erica, a bookstore employee who once interned at M&S.
The best coincidence of all took place at the Giller Prize the previous evening. Jane and I were chatting with Andrew O’Hagan (a Scot who comes about 12 miles away from my home village), when he broke off to talk with a couple who were waiting politely beside us. In due course he directed their attention to me, saying, “And do you know Doug Gibson?”
Amazement all round because as they, David and Mandy, put it, “Know him? No, but he’s coming to our store in Waterloo tomorrow!” So I was among friends, and after a generous introduction from David (I asked Jane if she was taking notes) we had an interview, then I told stories about authors requested by the full-house audience. It was great fun for me, and at the end David gave a highly memorable quote to the crowd, describing my work as “a damn near perfect book.”
Would I make this up?
Talking of that, I’m so impressed by the attention and publicity produced by the Giller Prize that I’m starting to hope that some readers will accuse me of inventing stories. Then . . . Ta Da! . . . I can classify my book as fiction, and enter it for next year’s Giller Prize.
— Douglas Gibson